I am thankful for the internet. Without it, this THOUGHT would have little opportunity for dissemination and use. Unfortunately, with just about everything in creation, there are negative aspects to every good thing. One of the problems of the internet (actually it is a problem of those who use the internet) is that every piece of information contained on it is often accepted as truth. You more than likely have heard the saying, “It’s gotta be true if it’s on the internet.”
Because error is accepted and then propagated (especially in the political realm) tensions between opposing views have reached explosive levels. Each side, believing they know “truth” without ever giving any critical thought to its veracity, seek to “destroy” those on the other side. It is justifiable when truth is discerned that the false arguments of another be destroyed, but not the person declaring it. This is especially true for the Christian. God is not desirous that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9) and that should be the attitude of the believer in Jesus Christ. Rather, God desires that all should come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved (1 Timothy 2:4).
The Apostle Paul gave instructions to the church in Philippi on how they were to evaluate the concerns of life. Chapter 4, verse 8 begins with, “whatsoever things are true…” Truth was for Paul, the most important criteria for godly living. But how do we determine what truth is? One may wonder how people back in those days discerned truth in that there was no snopes.com to verify or discredit any proposition. Let me suggest 3 considerations in discerning truth.
Consider the source of the declaration- Is the person asserting a proposition credible? Does he or she have enough expertise in the subject to make a bona fide claim? Also, does this person have a testimony of declaring truth or do they lie and exaggerate. Paul encouraged Timothy to regard those who had committed truth to him in the past (2 Timothy 3:14).
Consider the reasonableness of the declaration- Most lies can only be believed when they are removed from consequential considerations or other contributing factors. For example, it has been declared that dinosaurs became extinct from a meteor or an asteroid that hit the earth. Does it seem reasonable that even if such an event took place, that only the dinosaurs would become extinct and not all life?
Consider the context of the declaration- It has been said that a text out of context is a pretext for error. When a statement made by one is isolated from surrounding statements, the meaning can be construed to be just about anything. For example, the Bible declares this, “All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.” (Luke 4:6-7). Who could resist an offer like that? Oh, did I forget to mention that the one who spoke those words was Satan? Makes a difference, doesn’t it?
What is the outcome of critical thinking? The Apostle Paul notes that when the believer thinks in a critical way, “the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9) Could it be that the reason the world is in such an unharmonious state today is that our ears are only open to hearing what we want to hear without giving any critical thought to it and then passing it along as truth?